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Trevor May: Writer

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The Death Of The Ticket Stub

As a nine-year old boy going to my first big league game, I tried to soak in everything around me. The sounds of the game, the smells of the Metrodome, and the feel of the warm hot dog in my hand were all part of my exposure. This was an experience like nothing I had felt before and I wanted to cherish every moment.

When my family got back to the car, the first thing I did was grab everyone's ticket stub. Maybe they reminded me of the boxes of trading cards I had in my room at home. Maybe they were a cheap way for me to remember the events of the day. Either way it was the start of something more.
Image courtesy of Cody Christie
To this day, I have kept at least one ticket stub from every MLB game I have attended. However, the future is changing and the ticket stub is slowly dying. Ticket stubs are a physical representation of childhood and historical memories. Kirby Puckett's walk-off hit, Target Field's first game, or even the 2014 All-Star Game are all important Twins memories and they are all stubs I proudly display.

As technology has increased, the use of actual printed tickets from professional sports teams has declined. Fans can print out their tickets at home or have them sent to their phone. As the Vikings open US Bank Stadium this fall, all season ticket holders will only have electronic versions of their tickets.

Major League Baseball wants to see the end of the traditional ticket stubs sales. According to Market Watch, in 2012 "the traditional ticket stub accounted for less than a third of single-game seats sold this past season, down from 55% in 2011." This number will only continue to shrink as most fans have apps on their phones like Apple's Wallet or the MLB Ballpark App that make it easy to transfer tickets at the click of a button.

Bob Bowman, President of Business and Media of Major League Baseball, knows it will still take time for there to be a complete shift away from paper tickets. "It's been a tradition of 100 years, and some traditions die harder than others," he said.

In 2014, the Los Angeles Dodgers all but did away with paper tickets. They called it a fan enhancement because fans could transfer tickets easily to friends, clients, or sell them on the secondary market. Some fans even started petitions to bring back their paper tickets. When Clayton Kershaw tossed a no-hitter later that year, the Dodgers printed commemorative tickets for their season ticket holders.

I recently interviewed Dave St. Peter, the Twins President, about the shift in the ticket market. He said, "Including 'Print at Home' capability, roughly 35% of our total tickets are in electronic form. Less than 10% of our current tickets are used via a mobile device." When I asked him if he sees a time when all MLB tickets will be electronic, he said, "That's certainly a goal, but it's going to take some time for it to become reality."

St. Peter went on to say, "The Twins will continue to migrate more fans to digital tickets in 2017 and beyond." However, "That being said, current plans call for 'Print at Home' capability to remain an option."

The owner of FAN HQ, a Minnetonka based chain of sports apparel and memorabilia, Shaun Hagglund told me, "It's too bad hard tickets are going the way of printer tickets or even electronic tickets." He continued by saying, "Not only did they serve as a personal memento for a game attended, they were also unique items to have autographed by players who made an impact in a particular game or had a milestone event- first game, 3,000 hit, etc."

Ticket stubs will always be part of baseball's history. They are a collector's item that continues to be harder and harder to find. Actual ticket stubs might be relegated to Cooperstown relics but that takes nothing away from baseball's past and the ticket's tiny slice of history.

I was at Target Field this weekend but my tickets were in electronic form. The nine-year old kid in me looked through the stands after the game to come away with a rare relic to add to my ticket collection.

The ticket stub might be on it's death bed but that doesn't mean fans have to forget about this important part of baseball history.

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20 Comments

I agree. I love ticket stubs, and don't hate much, but I hate that the electronic and print at home bar code. I want to cash them in when that is the only option for a real ticket, on card stock. It is just another way for the ownerships to be cheap. Make it an option for those who don't care, but never take the ticket stub away.

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bustedstuff88
Aug 03 2016 06:02 AM

I still use a flip phone. Happily. I will never, ever use an "e-Ticket". Every event I attend is retained through my psychical stub and im not changing. In this "here now gone later world:, im still very much a tangible guy. 

I have a half season ticket plan. If I ever buy other games, like opening day, I pay the extra money to have real tickets mailed to me instead of the "print-at-home" option. I have an 18 month old son, and when he grows up, I want to show him the ticket stub from his first game, among other games that he has gone to. 

Great thread idea!  I have a partial season ticket plan.  I always get a little excited when the paper tickets come in the mail in the spring.  I don't even keep most of them anymore though, so it's a bit weird that I still get excited.  I suppose it's still 9 year old me giddy about a baseball game.  I do tend to keep games for special events or home openers and whatnot, but generally they're discarded. I've used the digital tickets a few times.  It's slick, but it's not the same.  I do like how easy it is to transfer tickets if I need to.  Each of us can get to the game when we can instead of trying to coordinate busy schedules.  Generally, I do still like using the physical ticket.

 

For the ASG, I was pretty anal about protecting those tickets.  I kept them in a binder and carried it around in a messenger bag the whole weekend.  I've got them framed at home now.  Part of me really enjoyed the hassle I was putting myself through.

I've saved paper tickets too (for the benefit of my future biographers charting my whereabouts), but I love the digital ones for convenience.  Buying/selling physical paper tickets is no fun.

 

They can and do print you a paper receipt for your digital ticket at Target Field -- this is what you show the ushers when you want access to your section.  (At least, that's what happened when I had a digital ticket for a nice seating area, I can't remember if I got a paper receipt for the cheap seats.)  It wasn't a very nice looking receipt, however!

 

If you have kids, and you want them to feel involved by handing over a paper ticket on entry, you could probably just have their digital ticket scanned on your phone, and tell the ticket-taker to pretend to scan/check whatever paper ticket you gave to the kid too (maybe an old one, or one you print yourself). Bonus: you can give the ticket to the kid far in advance, with no fear of the kid losing it!

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Don't Feed the Greed Guy
Aug 03 2016 08:43 AM
Great article. I use ticket stubs for bookmarks, and prefer to have tickets mailed to me, or picked up at Will Call whenever that's an option. Every ticket is a memory.

So, the decline of the traditional ticket stub is a bummer, no doubt. But the stub, even the receipt from a Stub purchase still stands as a momento of the game experience. We built a website called Stubstory.com which is an online community of people who share their gameday, or concert or travel experiences with us by uploading a pic of the stub (or receipt) maybe a photo or 2 from the occasion and share the story of the day with our community. Not only is it good for saving memories, but your kids will never be able to say "Dad - you never did anything with us" ! I invite you to check the site out - hopefully it will fill that void a little bit.

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ChiTownTwinsFan
Aug 03 2016 10:03 AM

When we went through my parents' home a few years ago, Mom found some stubs to Twins games from 1965; also included were stubs from the All Star game that year and I think one or two of the WS games. 

I keep a scorecard at games I attend, so tickets stubs aren't as dear to me, but I agree enthusiastically with the spirit of this article, as would have EB White
    • biggentleben likes this

 

When we went through my parents' home a few years ago, Mom found some stubs to Twins games from 1965; also included were stubs from the All Star game that year and I think one or two of the WS games. 

That's awesome!  My dad was going through some of his old Sporting News bins that he's kept since he was a kid and found a program from Bob Gibson day in StL that is in great shape.  Inside, there was an All-Star ballot from that year that is also in great condition and not punched at all.  He gave them both to me.  The interwebs tell me that Gibson had his number retired in September, so I don't know if my dad was at a couple of games that year or not.  He lived in southeastern Iowa at the time, so it's possible.

 

I keep a scorecard at games I attend, so tickets stubs aren't as dear to me, but I agree enthusiastically with the spirit of this article, as would have EB White

My wife and I do that too.  We buy a book now and bring it in with us.  I've kept all of the old scorebooks.  It's fun to go back and see some of the bigger feats that we've seen; cycles, monumental hits, etc.  

What was great that for awhile you did get to keep the entire ticket, not just a partial. And enjoyed when the Twins featured different images on their tickets. Not a current season ticket holder, but it was sorta nice to keep that package of tickets intact.

 

Of course, they want to destroy the secondary market, or even giving them to a friend. Keep a name or contact with the file.

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biggentleben
Aug 03 2016 05:45 PM

I keep score at every game, and I found the Eephus scorecards after seeing the quality of in-stadium scorecards go down drastically. My wife noticed this on our stadium tour honeymoon last summer - the vast difference in the offering to a fan wanting to be involved in the game. Instead, I scored the Braves/Twins games in a very nice quality scorebook that reminded me of the quality of a pro scorecard that I had utilized a couple times in college when offered the opportunity to score at games.

I keep score at every game, and I found the Eephus scorecards after seeing the quality of in-stadium scorecards go down drastically. My wife noticed this on our stadium tour honeymoon last summer - the vast difference in the offering to a fan wanting to be involved in the game. Instead, I scored the Braves/Twins games in a very nice quality scorebook that reminded me of the quality of a pro scorecard that I had utilized a couple times in college when offered the opportunity to score at games.


At Nats Park they only offer scorecards inside the program so you have to pony up five bucks. When I discovered this I bought the program, tore out the scorecard, and threw the program away in the spirit of protest. On the other hand, I saw the Twins at Fenway the Sunday game where Milone Miloned his start, and the scorecard I bought was basically printer paper.
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biggentleben
Aug 04 2016 12:48 AM

 

At Nats Park they only offer scorecards inside the program so you have to pony up five bucks. When I discovered this I bought the program, tore out the scorecard, and threw the program away in the spirit of protest. On the other hand, I saw the Twins at Fenway the Sunday game where Milone Miloned his start, and the scorecard I bought was basically printer paper.

 

I had to do the same thing in DC, but no tearing out as that game was Max Scherzer's no-hitter (and near perfect game).

I had to do the same thing in DC, but no tearing out as that game was Max Scherzer's no-hitter (and near perfect game).


Had I been present to score that game I likely would have come to rue my iconoclastic impulse
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biggentleben
Aug 04 2016 12:42 PM

 

Had I been present to score that game I likely would have come to rue my iconoclastic impulse

 

The crazy thing was that Liriano had legit no-hit stuff that day as well. He was walking guys, but his stuff was wicked as well. Then that night opened up with an incredible storm that ABSOLUTELY POURED as my wife and I attempted to find a laundromat at the midpoint of our trip. Good marriage building right there.

Great article, I agree with you about this. I have ticket stubs from many games, performances, museums, etc I have visited. It's a cheap memento and helps you remember when you actually went to something. I am taking my niece and nephews to the Twins game next weekend and I chose getting the tickets in the mail because I like them to have the experience of having their own ticket and handing it to the usher to get in. It's fun! 

I know it is probably lame.....but I use FB to recall what I did when now. As someone that just moved, and who is striving toward minimalism, it is astounding how many "mementos" I had in my house that I hadn't looked at in years. They were nearly all sold, donated, recycled, or thrown out. It is very freeing. I'm guessing most on this thread wouldn't agree.

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Cody Christie
Aug 08 2016 10:20 AM

I hope the Twins continue to have options that include ticket stubs. My guess is that ticket stubs will disappear at some point in the next decade. I plan on hunting them down as long as they are available. 


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